Jean de Villiers: South Africa captain retires after breaking jaw

Jean de Villiers carries the ball against Samoa
Jean de Villiers has played 109 times for South Africa

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has retired from international rugby after being ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with a fractured jaw.

Centre De Villiers, who was injured during Saturday's 46-6 win over Samoa, played 109 times for his country.

That makes the 34-year-old Stormers man the fourth most-capped player in the history of South African Test rugby.

"Rugby will be poorer without Jean," said coach Heyneke Meyer. "He is a true ambassador for South Africa."

De Villiers said he knew as soon as he left the field on Saturday that he had played his last Test.

Jean de Villiers

He added: "Injuries are part of rugby and I've had my fair share, so by now I know how to cope with them. It's very sad, but life goes on."

De Villiers said he would be "eternally grateful" for the time he had as a South Africa player.

"I would like to wish the team all the very best," he added. "I'm now their number one supporter.

"The last time I got injured in a World Cup match and had to go home was in 2007, also against Samoa, and that finished well for the Boks, so hopefully it will happen again."

South Africa won the 2007 World Cup by beating England 15-6.

Springboks coach Meyer, who has called up Jan Serfontein to replace De Villiers, said: "Jean is a true ambassador for South Africa and a person everyone in our country can be immensely proud of.

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"He will go down as one of the greatest Springboks ever and, in my eyes, he is probably one of the best captains in the history of world rugby, who always put the team first and gave his time for any player, young or old without ever changing who he is.

"Jean enriched my life and I hold him in very high regard, as person and rugby player."

De Villiers captained the Springboks 37 times, a tally only bettered by John Smit (83).